Mulk Review

The Rishi Kapoor that you remember as a singing, dancing hero in Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahin is now a fabulous character actor. And despite the typical Muslim beard (sans moustache) occupying his face, he manages to emote brilliantly. He is Murad Ali Mohammed, the head of a wonderful family - a wife (Neena Gupta as Badi Tabassum), an NRI son, a Hindu daughter in law (Tapsee Pannu as Arati Mohammed), a brother (Manoj Pahwa as Bilaal), brother's wife (Prachi Shah as Choti Tabassum), a niece (Ayaat), a nephew (Prateik Babbar as Shahid) - and they are celebrating Murad's 65th birthday. We have seen Murad living happily with his Hindu neighbors. Everything seems happy until his nephew Shahid blows up a bus after having been radicalised.


This is where we come across Danish Javed (Rajat Kapoor in a wonderful, believable anti-terrorist cop role), who believes in making a spectacle of Shahid's capture so that other radicalised young men will know that the police mean business. The police investigation results in upsetting the delicate social balance in the neighborhood. Suddenly, it is 'all Muslims are terrorists', 'Murad and his family should go to Pakistan'. Stones are thrown at their home, and his friends shun him. His brother is dragged away and questioned and accused of aiding and abetting terrorism by the prosecutor (Ashutosh Rana as Santosh Anand).


Since Murad is a lawyer, he promises his brother that his name will be cleared. But the attacks from the prosecutor and the comments from the judge (the inimitable Kumud Mishra) seem to push Murad to breaking point. The trial is well written and very engaging. There is a character who handles social media for the prosecutor introduced but apart from a stray dialog about, 'Do you know what is happening on social media?' nothing is really done. The two Tabassums in the house have not much to do but to look tragic. The daughter in law Tapsee Pannu looks too weepy in court, which undermines the the legal argument she makes.


The religion, justice, civil rights arguments are decent and topical. This is where Rishi Kapoor makes a fabulous case. But it is Kumud Mishra who is the judge who makes a convincing decision for the audience.


The film has been shot brilliantly by Ewan Mulligan (the long continuous shot at the beginning will surprise you rather wonderfully). The only thing that makes this film a tad weak is the overdoing of facial expressions by Ashutosh Rana. His grimaces and his meanness seem needless. His grin is meant to be evil, but had he been reined in, the film would have been better. Danish Javed's prejudices are very well brought out. The subject of Hindu-Muslim social relationships is volatile even after over seventy years of independence, and this film strikes a balance, the judge's words making it plain. The trial seems to go on and on, and perhaps they could have avoided repetitions and edited them. But the film might appeal to 'believers' of both religions.

How do you prove that you are patriotic? A Muslim patriarch in Benaras battles to answer this question when his nephew has been shot dead as a terrorist and his brother has died following the legal and social troubles the family faces as a result. Will his Hindu daughter in law help him get justice? Or does religious fanaticism sweeping the nation currently win? A delicate subject rather well tackled despite several rather convenient events in the film. (2.5) - Manisha Lakhe

NOW PLAYING | MOVIE REVIEWS